SEC Betting Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide at Arkansas Razorbacks

Alabama Crimson Tide at Arkansas Razorbacks
Bud Walton Arena – Fayettville, Arkansas
Thursday, February 23, 2012, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Alabama -1
Current Line: Arkansas -2
Opening Total: 132 1/2
Current Total: 134
Opening Money Line: Alabama -120 / Arkansas +100
Current Money Line: Arkansas -135 / Alabama +115

Alabama and Arkansas meet in a crucial SEC game Thursday night. Both teams are on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. Arkansas is a slight favorite at home.

The 17-9 Alabama Crimson Tide travel to the 17-10 Arkansas Razorbacks in a crucial game for both teams. Both are out of the SEC title race, with Alabama 6-6 in conference and Arkansas 5-7, well behind first place Kentucky. However, both teams are on the bubble for an NCAA tournament at-large bid. Alabama beat Tennessee at home Saturday 62-50 to snap a two game losing streak. Arkansas has lost 2 games in a row and 4 of the last 5 including 98-68 at home against Florida Saturday. The loss snapped a 17 game home winning streak for the Razorbacks. Arkansas leads the series 28-25 including 15-5 at home. The road team hasn’t won in this series since 2007. Last month in Tuscaloosa, Alabama escaped with a 72-66 win.

Alabama is coached by Anthony Grant. The Crimson Tide has additional wins over Oakland, Maryland, Wichita St, Purdue, VCU, Oklahoma St, Georgia Tech, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi, and Auburn. Alabama has losses to Georgetown, Dayton, Kansas St, Mississippi St, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, South Carolina, LSU, and Florida.

Arkansas is coached by Mike Anderson. The Razorbacks have additional losses to Houston, Oklahoma, UConn, Mississippi, Kentucky, LSU, Georgia, and Tennessee. Arkansas has wins over Oakland, Louisiana Tech, Charlotte, Mississippi St, LSU, Michigan, Auburn, Vanderbilt and South Carolina.

Alabama is outscoring opponents 65-58 this season. Alabama is #10 in points allowed.  The Crimson Tide are shooting 45.1% from the field including 27.2% from 3 point range. Alabama shoots 70.6% from the free throw line. The Crimson Tide average 35.7 rebounds, and have a rebounding margin of +2.3. Alabama averages 12.8 assists, 13.1 turnovers, 7.7 steals, and 4.6 blocks a game. Crimson Tide opponents are shooting 38.1% from the field and 27.3% from 3 point range. Alabama is in the top 10 nationally in both categories.  Alabama forces 14 turnovers a game.

Alabama forward JaMychal Green averages 14.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.5 blocks a game. He leads the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks. However, he missed the last 3 games due to a suspension. Coach Grant reinstated him for practice, but he isn’t expected to play until next week. Tony Mitchell averaged 13.1 points, 7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1 steal and 1.4 blocks a game. He is suspended for the rest of the season and has missed the last 4 games. Trevor Releford averages 12.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists to lead the team, and 2.2 steals a game to also lead the team. Levi Randolph, Andrew Steele, Trevor Lacey, Nick Jacobs, and Rodney Cooper also get significant minutes in the rotation. Jacobs is questionable with a mouth injury. Center Moussa Gueye is out for the season with a knee injury.

Arkansas is outscoring opponents 73-69 this season. The Razorbacks are shooting 43.4% from the field and 34.8% from 3 point range. Arkansas makes 68.9% of their free throws. The Razorbacks average 34.9 rebounds and have a rebounding margin of -3.2. Arkansas averages 13.9 assists, 13.1 turnovers, 8.8 steals and 5.4 blocks a game. Razorback opponents are shooting 42.4% from the field, and 31.4% from 3 point range. Arkansas forces 16.9 turnovers a game.

Arkansas guard B.J. Young averages 15.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. He is shooting 41.2% from 3 point range. Mardracus Wade averages 10.4 points, 2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.6 steals a game to tie for the team lead. He is shooting 47.8% from 3 point range. Rickey Scott averages 9.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists a game. Julysses Nobles averages 8.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists to lead the team, and 1.6 steals a game. Devonta Abron leads the Razorbacks in rebounds with 4.3 a game. Hunter Mickleson leads the team in blocks with 2.4 a game. Michael Sanchez is questionable with a shoulder injury. Forward Marshawn Powell is out for the season with a knee injury. He only played in 2 games before the injury. He averaged 10.8 points, and 4.5 rebounds a game last year.

Arkansas is 7-11-1 ATS and the total is 9-9-1 this season. Alabama is 10-12 ATS and the total is 12-10 this season. The home team and favorite is 6-2 ATS in the last 8 in this series, and the over is 5-in the last 7. Arkansas has covered 4 of the last 5 games against Alabama overall and at home. The Crimson Tide are 2-5 ATS overall, and in SEC games, 3-8 as a road underdog, including 2-7 as an underdog of 6.5 points or less, 1-4 as an underdog, and 0-4 as a road underdog of 6.5 points or less. The Razorbacks are 3-0-1 ATS as a favorite of 6.5 points or less overall and at home, 4-1-1 as a favorite, after a straight up loss of 20 points or more, and as a home favorite, 5-2-1 at home, 2-5-1 against teams with winning records, 1-3-1 at home against teams with losing road records, 2-8-1 after allowing 90 points or more, 1-4 overall, and in SEC games.

Arkansas is much better at home where they have upsets over Mississippi St, Vanderbilt, and Michigan. Alabama has struggled on the road. I like Arkansas to win at home.

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